As supermodel Bella Hadid counts the cost of a social media post that created uproar, the fragile relationship between brands and their ambassadors also comes under the spotlight.
One minute your name and face is up in lights as the inspiration to millions of consumers, the next your image is being hurriedly removed from shopping malls and stores like tins of contaminated salmon.
In a world where the instant wrath of social media followers leads to a rapid corporate trial and guilty verdict, is something missing from the process?
Hadid, a 22-year-old Palestinian-American, was attacked for posting an image seen by some as insulting towards the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Quickly deleted, it showed the model’s boot held in the air near an airport window overlooking airplanes carrying the flags of the two countries.
Her apology, that the post had nothing to do with politics and she’d made an honest, early morning mistake, was barely heard amid the rapidly escalating row.
Dior removed her visuals from shopping malls and stores across the GCC, refusing to confirm whether the decision was terminal but leaving the supermodel out in the cold.
Just days earlier she’d shared a New York Times op-ed on the UAE and Saudi playing a role in Sudan’s military crackdown on demonstrators, later saying it was meant to raise awareness of the country’s humanitarian crisis.
Left to fight his daughter’s corner, real estate developer Mohamed Hadid claims she is the victim of jealous individuals and trolls out to destroy the career of a young, proud Muslim who had been a “champion of Arab causes.”
Was Hadid wrong to put up that airport post on Instagram? Obviously. Did she aim to offend anyone? Almost certainly not. Was her post actually offensive? To some, yes. Were Dior right to distance themselves from her? In the name of sales, surely.
From Dior’s point of view, delaying the guilty verdict would have been an expensive mistake. Wrapping their sympathetic arms around the young lady, with a couple of flags to help, too much of a risk.
Some advice in advance for the luxury brand’s next new face – keep your boots down, stay off social media until you’re awake, and get some professional advice about what you post on Instagram.